By Samantha Wassel of Between the Monkey Bars
For the past three months, a small town in northern New Hampshire has been operating under a proposed “new and improved alphabet” that may eventually be implemented nationwide, according to several Congressional and local government sources in the area.
Pat C. Greene, mayor of Lexiconia, NH, says the White House contacted him personally last November with the details of the experiment after a local mom in his jurisdiction drafted a bill requesting that the position of the letters “N” and “E” be switched.
While Greene did not receive a copy of the proposed legislation, he was told that it arrived at the U.S. Capitol Building in a manila envelope adorned with Hello Kitty stickers.
In addition to the bill, Donna Prim (the woman who penned it) also allegedly included a petition with over 650,000 signatures of support, a number of which New Hampshire Congresswoman Ann McClane Kuster (D) says appear to have been written with Crayola washable marker.
Although our reporters were unable to reach Prim on the phone, we did find her personal Facebook page. Pinned to the top—right beneath a Hello Kitty profile picture—is a lengthy status update that details the reasoning behind her proposal, parts of which we have included below:
“As it stands, the current alphabet poses a linguistic challenge to toddlers. Most children under the age of three have a difficult enough time enunciating, and here we are trying to get them to string the letters L-M-N-O-P together without a hitch. I know I’ve heard my own little girl stumble too many times, and her frustration is gut wrenching to witness.”
“The reality is that ‘M’ just sounds too much like ‘N.’ For the longest time, Saffire [Prim’s daughter] thought that ‘M’ was simply repeated twice. Not only would she get angry when I corrected her, but it also led to hour-long tantrums, during which she would cry and scream for a bag of M&Ms.
“Phonetically speaking, you run into the same problem with ‘D’ and ‘E.’ If you don’t take a deliberate pause between the two, it just sounds like you’re drawing out the ‘D.’
“And then you’ve got the aesthetic of it. Saffire prints her ABCs, and it all just kind of blurs together in the middle. Even when I type it, it doesn’t look right: MN. And my kid’s not the only one who gets confused. I’ve seen a lot of children just make some sort of giant squiggle when they get to that section, and it ends up looking more like a cardiograph printout than the alphabet.
“Here’s how I see it: If you’re going to expect kids these days to know there [sic] ABCs by kindergarten, you have to give them reasonable material to work with. It just makes more sense—from both an oral and a written standpoint—to switch the ‘N’ and the ‘E.’”
Not wanting to ignore the concerns of its constituents—over 650,000 of them—Congressional leaders felt a moral obligation to address the bill. However, Kuster tells us they refused to implement such a drastic change on a national level without first taking it for a “test run” in a localized area so that they could closely monitor its repercussions.
After convening in a lengthy joint session, Congress finally settled on Lexiconia, the town from which the bill originated, as the ideal testing site. (We suspect it might have been to shut Prim up—at least for the time being—although Kuster refuses to confirm.)
Surprisingly, Mayor Greene says he’s received few complaints about the changes causing “mass confusion,” which was his initial concern. Rather, the biggest issue thus far has been budgeting.
“It costs a lot of money to re-alphabetize everything,” he told us via Skype interview. (Greene was unable to leave his office due to “just a bit of civil unrest, nothing beyond the norm” occurring outside his office building.) “We’ve had to order new phone books, new encyclopedias, new alphabet charts for schools. We’ve had a lot of dedicated librarians working overtime to completely revamp the Dewey Decimal system. But I think we’ll be able cover the expenses. I simply raised property taxes by 162%.
“Oh, don’t mind them,” he said, waving nonchalantly as his webcam rattled from what sounded like a small explosion. “You can’t please everybody.”
Greene believes the experiment is “going splendidly” and reports that Prim and her daughter recently stopped by his office to personally deliver an edible arrangements basket and handwritten thank-you card.
“The girl’s handwriting was absolutely superb,” he said, munching on a pineapple daisy. “And when she sang the new ABC song—smiling the entire time—the whole room gave her a standing ovation.”
Congressional workers will continue monitoring Lexiconia over the next few months before putting Prim’s bill to an official vote.
About the Author
Samantha Wassel is a Stay-At-Home Mama to the cutest twin toddlers in the history of all Toddlerdom. When she’s not running her borderline-offensive mouth, she’s running masochistically long distances, often with the aforementioned toddlers in tow. She enjoys reading, writing, baking, marathoning, complaining, photographing, playgrounding, and Ghirardelli Midnight Reverie chocolate bars. Her writing has been featured on Scary Mommy, Club Mid, In the Powder Room, Bluntmoms, and Mamalode. Follow her on Facebook and check out her personal blog, Between the Monkey Bars.